Jerzy Hausner talks to Leszek Jażdżewski, editor-in-chief of Polish liberal quarterly magazine Liberté!.
Let us imagine such a situation: While the Council of Ministers is being appointed, someone says: ‘Ok, one political fraction here, another one over there, let’s put there that many women, over there that may men’, and then concludes: ‘Now let every Minister say what they want to do’, and then take some ghost writer, who will put all of that nicely in writing, so that the Prime Minister can deliver a nice and smooth speech. This is clearly not how politics is created; it becomes de facto the creation of something that lacks any order. That is, in fact, a lack of any politics, with a subsequent sentence to overwhelming powerlessness.
Let us assume that you, Professor Hausner, are appointed the main advisor to the Prime Minister. How Polish state can be fixed? How the Republic of Poland can be fixed?
One matter is to tackle this subject from the academic point of view, yet another one is to handle it as an advisor to the Prime Minister. With an assumption that the Prime Minister, or the future Prime Minister had already chosen his advisors and that they had already agreed on the political agenda, so that whatever will be preached during the electoral campaign will be followed in the future. Firstly, what needs to be established is the purpose of this government. The Prime Minister needs to be clear on the purpose of appointing his government.
Surely, the prime purpose should be the willingness to implement his political agenda, not the sole will to become a prime minister, as that goes without saying, or becoming a good prime minister, as that is rather obvious as well. Obviously, the process of implementing the points of the agenda will take the awareness of what can be changed within the framework of the already existing institutional system, and to what extent such a system would need to be amended.
Moreover, it would need to happen at a particular historical moment and correspond to the right timing. We can foretell what is likely to happen in autumn this year. Let us begin then with a statement that it is rather highly unlikely to witness any major economical collapse, and what follows, we will not be forced to take any sudden measures to resuscitate or slow down the national economy. It will be all rather about sustaining the relatively high level of economical growth with the subsequent generation of the structural transformations of the economy, which would allow for the increase of its effectiveness in the long run.
And here another crucial question arises: how the current flow of the matters, which are put in the context of aiding the development of Polish economy, are related to the matters of foreign affairs, which include the relationship with EU, and finally, how crucial is the matter of entering the Euro-zone? Hence it is crucial to establish our standing as far as entering the euro-zone is concerned within the area of economic affairs.
We need to decide whether we are intending to encourage our economy to withstand the effort of joining the Euro-zone, of perhaps we think it is not the right time as yet. I believe it is rather unlikely that we will face any major social disagreements, at least not at the beginning. I am assuming that everybody will accept the outcome of the upcoming democratic elections and will acknowledge the new government in power. That leads us to another problem: Since the social dialogue has been paralysed, what can be done to reactivate it?
There is a proposal to appoint the Committee of Social Dialogue.
Let us assume that such a Committee will be appointed. The problem, the essence of which are governments’ proposals offered to the participants of the dialogue, will still remain unresolved. The government cannot afford not to have any political initiative in this matter, or wait until we are faced with the waves of social tensions, and only then decide on the best move to make. As far as the matters of the foreign affairs are concerned, we are definitely dealing with major tensions, which will not cease to prevail. It is rather unlikely that the strains beyond the eastern border will release any time soon.
Most likely it will be rather the opposite.
Therefore it is not just only the matter of the internal political affairs of the Republic of Poland. Faced with such a situation we have to decide how to provide and ensure the national security, and establish what needs to be done from the end of the national army and from the end of other political segments involved in the national security, for instance the armament industry. These issues cease to be the matters solely within the domain of the Ministry of National defence, and become more related to the tasks of the Ministry of Economy.
I believe the long-term solvency of the state is another problem to be tackled, especially considering the increasing debt of Social Insurance Funds (FUS). Even though the real life debt remains stable, FUS simply borrows the money from the state, therefore the financial responsibilities are to increase, especially those of the Polish citizens. Long-term predictions on this matter are looking gloom. From the point of view of pure politics, it is essential to reflect on determining who works along with me as a partner and who is an adversary, where and in which social circles reliable allies can be found. That being the case, while forming the socio-political base, we firstly have to settle on what can be advanced to the particular social groups on different matters.
Secondly, we have to determine how to establish the relationships with the other participants of this formation: president and other state structures. It is not only just about establishing those relations, but also rearranging them, if need be. If the prime minister had revealed to me what is his ultimate goal in the given perspective, and hence set out the vectors of action, then I would have advised him on where to act preventively to keep the ability to react, and where to act offensively to create something new.
It is a common knowledge that sooner or later the Prime Minister will be faced with some issues that exist, yet are impossible to resolve, such as the matters of energy strategies and their solutions. Then, moving on with the programme, the Prime Minster cleans up the agenda. The current affairs will be divided into those, which require immediate action, those to be dealt with half way through the term of office, and finally those to tackle in the long term. I dare to assume that no government will ever manage to resolve the long-term problems, although it has to push the country in the right direction. Only then can we focus on the legislative processes, which in turn would lead to the formation of the government’s action plan.
Generally speaking, there are two steps to achieve this goal, first one being the agenda presented as an exposé. The second one is the period of ‘one hundred days’, within which everything is to be appropriately arranged. Not everything can be resolved, yet something needs to be at least arranged, and then the government is ready to act on it. If those one hundred days are wasted, no government can make up for it, even in the conditions of absolute serenity. Undoubtedly, we also have to deal with the question of personal relations, hence we have to focus choosing the people who are reliable and can guarantee that whatever is set out to achieve will be indeed achieved.
Let us imagine someone, while appointing the Council of Ministers, says: ‘Ok, one political fraction here, another one over there, let’s put there that many women, over there that may men’, and then concludes: ‘Now let every Minister say what they want to do’, and then take some ghost writer, who will put all of that nicely in writing, so that the Prime Minister can deliver a nice and smooth speech. This is clearly not creation of politics; it becomes de facto the creation of something that lacks any order. That is in fact lack of any politics, with a subsequent sentence to overwhelming powerlessness.
Clearly, it is not the case that whoever takes over the helm of the state has to renovate the country, because it is falling apart. Newly appointed head of the government has to be aware of the state’s weakness and realise that the more complex amendments can be implemented only when the control is taken over the structures, and only then will it be possible to modify them accordingly. This can be compared to the road works. The company undertaking the project cannot simply state: ‘Road works in progress, please avoid these areas’, and then to the question: ‘Which diversion routes can be taken instead?’, they answer: ‘It is up to you, currently we are assigned to carry out the road works here, and that is the bottom line!’
While I was listening to you, professor Hausner, I realised why so many strategic documents introduced on the governmental level, as well as from the standing of non-governmental institutions, are never put into practice. They are never implemented, because they lack the political dimension, which you mentioned before, even though our discussion is only hypothetical. I would be tempted to encourage you to elaborate on the idea of strategic thinking. What do you think are the reasons for this strategic policies materialising on such an insignificant level? I do not suppose it happens because we do not have enough of people sharing this point of view in our country. You yourself are perceived to be an important think tank as an individual; there was Michał Boni, we still have other subjects, as well as particular strategic vectors. It seems like, firstly, most of these political strategies are unfortunately a kind of journalistic commentary stating: ‘If we are to resolve the issue of non-innovative economy, we have to increase the social capital.’ It is a very just statement, however when it comes to put it into practice, it turns out we have to render it into legislative projects and into some political process, in other word it needs a wider narrative context. We tend to keep on passing the buck in this issue, if we had a relatively high social capital then surely some innovative solutions would emerge automatically. How would you place these weaknesses of turning into that pattern of thinking? Can we actually witness any patterns of strategic thinking among Polish politicians, or is it rather their inability to implement it?
Undoubtedly we lack the long-term sovereignty of the strategic thought and it is extremely difficult to fill this gap. We still can, however, think of a few models of the formation of the supply base of stare’s strategic way of thinking. I am not talking about the think tanks representing particular fractions, as their role consists in something else. It is all about the strategies serving the state directly, the concepts powering the state as such, and not the Prime Minister. It is also about something that needs to be delivered as public good of a kind, something that needs to be brought to the attention of all the interested, and not just the knowledge intended for the Prime Minister. We can describe this phase as pre-political and conceptual-intellectual-political. Perhaps it will become necessary to appoint a national strategic institute.
Maybe we might need to spend the funds from the European Union on creating the network of facilities designed to provide highly advanced concepts within particular domains. It could also become indispensable to appoint a national think tank, an organisation of a slightly different, of a non- institutional character, and not directly within the realm of the state, yet animated by it, just like Brussels-based Bruegel was brought to life by EU countries. This is something to think about. Yet essence of the problem lies elsewhere.
In order to resolve the issues on this scale, it is indispensable to adopt a certain concept of power, establishing the reason for its existence. It is not just about who will assume the reigns of the government, it is more about how the role is defined and structured. We are faced with the problem of a lack of a political leadership, a lack of presence of someone who can suggest a certain action plan and can mobilise people around him, needed to implement this action plan. These people include members of political parties, people in media, and finally the citizens in general. How such mobilisation can come into being? Such political leader will try to bring people into his way of thinking; his actions will need to be direct and his tone powerful, yet exerting his authority will go far beyond this point.
No leadership can exist without the leading strategic thought. We are lacking the leadership also because we are lacking decisiveness. Yet most importantly, we are lacking the comprehension of the rules of public politics. Practising the rules of public politics can be compared to the rules of a football game, and those rules cannot be changed as we please. We are bound by these rules, yet it is up to us to decide on many aspects of the match. Are we passing long or short ball? Is about the ball on the ground or in the air? Is the game dictated from the left wing, or are the actions initiated in the right wing? Are we playing closely on the field or spread across the pitch? Do we rely on only one striker or choose a different formation? This is what politics is all about- choosing the best possible option out of the whole array of available modes of action. My choice is determined by the ultimate goal set before. Is it about winning national championships, or just about staying in the league? It all depends on what we are capable of today.
In order to defeat real Madrid, Luis Enrique needed to modify the style of the game of FC Barcelona- it was the introduction of passing longer balls that took the opponent by surprise; with Josep Guardiola in charge, you could not play the long ball. And what is the attitude of the majority of Polish politicians? Each of them believes it is their individual decision to establish the rules. So they encourage everyone: ‘Let’s get the ball rolling’, yet instead, shall we say, playing football, some decide to play handball, others basketball, and some others choose to play rugby. Everybody chooses the rules that are convenient for them, yet none has a stomach for real life responsibility or problematic decision making. In other words, they want to leave the box that restrains them, however, in authority of making decisions, they opt for their retrenchment, which effectively leaves them free from any direct accountability. They find countless excuses to refrain from making any conclusions and choosing any alternatives. Evidently that proves avoiding any responsibility at all cost.
Polish politicians want to be influential and significant, yet refrain from taking any responsibility. They want to keep their freedom on the level of setting rules, where they should be denied such freedom, if they want to be effective on the level of potential solutions to the problems. Therefore I elucidate that Polish politics has no teeth. It has no teeth because it lacks national perpetration. It consists in apparent governing and a tactical power game. It seems like indecisive ebbing and flowing, maybe this or maybe that. There is no consequential action in terms of choosing the aim and deciding on the means within the framework of the binding rules and accountability for the outcome; no reflection on the result of the undertaking. Certain issues have barely had the government’s teeth sank into, they are never being swallowed, let alone being digested. Let us focus, for instance, on the highway fees.
The debate on what needs to be done has started many months ago, more suitable gates, or rather new electronic system via Toll. Some say one thing, others say something else, yet nothing actually changes. Everybody tries to find an excuse for their inaction, so that they will not face any accusation. And then there will be holidays and let the time of playing the tricks begin. We reached mastery in explaining our own indolence, and sadly not in achieving the goals we hoped for, and for what we are responsible as a governing authority. We brought into the existence the whole system, which I referred to as system of ‘institutionalised irresponsibility’ already in the 1990s, and which consists in evading responsibilities and pushing it to others. Today it became structurally and mentally integrated into the system of the governance. It seems like we are decisive, enterprising and resourceful as far as private matters are concerned.
When it comes to the public affairs, however, we tend to avoid any action. This tendency has to be overcome; yet no orders will prove effective. We have to understand the governance is inseparably connected with practical responsibility. This cannot be accounted for only by the electorate or your own political party, but also by public opinion, non-governmental institutions, universities, etc.. Nobody is being forced to take the position with the government! Ladies and gentlemen, since you already happen to take these positions, you have to make a statement. Decide! Make it clear what is there to be achieved and take action. Others need to have a chance to relate to these decisions, but you have to make them. Do not watch out for the others! Do not belay ad infinitum!
I have to admit that your vision, professor Hausner, sounds very enticing. It seems to lie somewhere in the antipodes of an attempt to look for some hidden agenda in the state of thoroughly trained hopelessness, practiced by the current government. Politicians, like Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz, or earlier Mr Donald Tusk, used to justify their own reluctance, hopelessness and powerlessness by the assumption that solely being in power, as it were, and ensuring its stability is a value measured by its own worth. It seems understandable, given that all that matters here is to prolong the term of office by yet another four years. In some way we might arrive at the conclusion that Polish state and its institutions are very well equipped to exercise this kind of politics. The question yet arises: should not we perhaps try to exercise a different kind of politics, a significantly more ambitious one? Especially that we have to somehow function within the global reality, not to mention geopolitics, as that is yet another subject. We cannot rely here solely on the European Union. Given the assumption that the aim of ensuring Poland with developmental dynamics, if not for the next quarter of a century, then at least for next decades, is perceived as the most ambitious of all, how to introduce changes into the national institutions, so that they would accelerate this development instead of hampering it? Perhaps the criticism of the state’s administration is too general? We tend to criticise the state for failures on many levels, yet maybe there are some areas that it functions impeccably, hence those solutions are to be implemented in the whole structure? Or perhaps we should opt for a clean slate and think of new panacea, since the old structures restrain the state, and only then change the law and legislations?
I absolutely obliterate the idea of a clean slate! There is no such thing as a blank space that ensures total freedom. That would be the last resort in case it all collapses. We have witnessed the collapse of communist system, and, yes, then there was no other way but to create a new system from a scratch and right away. Now, since we already have the system, we should prevent its degradation in certain aspects and impede its regeneration after a collapse over and over again.
The system needs to be systematically accommodated in these aspects that clearly demonstrate malfunction. It is not possible to create such a social system, let it be legislative or judicial systems, higher education system or prison system, which would function impeccably and imperturbably. The efficiency of any social system will always be impeded by a variety of malfunctions. It is absolutely necessary that we recognise them on time and execute appropriate constructive actions. Therefore if we deliberate on the Polish best online casino state, it makes no sense to talk about it ‘just in general’. We have to establish why in some aspects it prospers, while in some others it fails.
Maybe it”s the inefficient administration that shall be blamed?
I highly doubt we should blame the inefficient administration only. Administrative system, from this point of view, should be perceived as an institutional tool of a kind. Let us elaborate on the healthcare, one of the aspects of social system that the state fails to fulfil. We might insist that there are dozens of other countries equally failing in this matter, yet we should be far from getting it off our tail and let it be yet another excuse.
There is no doubt that we have to learn to recognise, firstly, what are the main weaknesses of this system, and secondly, establish why they are still reinforced instead being modified, and finally, how to rectify the balance it our system, as clearly it is currently negatively imbalanced. The system generates higher costs and bigger debts, and instead offers the level of service that is incommensurable, and let me reiterate, not worse, yet incommensurable, with expenditure and other liabilities.
We are dealing here with incommensurability that will give rise to some serious systematic consequences in general, and not only within the domain of healthcare, and will, among other issues, systematically generate an increase in public debt. This incommensurability, this malfunction is so obvious that in fact it is indispensable to introduce an incisive reform. All we need to do is just compose a program for such a reform. In 2003, I was involved in such a process; I had to present a project of a serious systematic revision, which consisted of four main paragraphs. Let me reiterate, it was anything but a long document, as I introduced the main concept in as few as four points. I am really not too sure whether today you need four points, perhaps it is just three, or maybe only two.
Nonetheless, I am positive that we need those points, and we also need someone who will propose them and bravely put the through to save the system from a current state of degenerative imbalance. We need a prime minister who will not only grant permission, but will also offer strong support to his Minister. Yet surely there are some aspects of the system that are far from failing, such as banks. Our powerlessness is partially resulting from legal restrictions; therefore they have to be recognised and eventually removed. Yet this is only a part of profusely spread ineptitude. We have to say it loud and clear: we promote people who dare to decide.
Moreover, we have to allow for more freedom to risk if we want people to become more responsible. We should refrain from punishing them for everything, so the judgement can be passes in a slightly different manner. That requires leadership, therefore we need a leader, someone who says: ‘I am here, assuming the reins, because I want to make a change.’ Sometimes it is about the radical difference, sometimes it is just reshaping, yet the element of diversity is indispensable if we want to access new possibilities.
Here we should ask ourselves a question: Are we, the Polish society, aware what is the reason for the state’s existence? What do we expect from the state? What we expect might be reasonable or unreasonable. Reasonable expectations can be met, as long as we stop perceiving the state only as a contributing and providing source, but also, perhaps more importantly, as a foundation for achieving our individual goals. I deeply believe that, on one hand, Polish nation needs the state, however, on the other it fails to pay it dutiful respect.
We disregard the state also because we deal with the majority of the matters in divergent manner. We tend to be afraid of the state; we do not trust it, however there are obvious reasons for it. I just remembered one episode that took place during the Congress of Polish Culture, namely an undertaking of cultural elite, when the announcement of the idea of creating new media legislation had been made. There has been assembled a citizens’ committee, with as many as fifty people involved, the sole purpose of which was to prepare such legislation. I was laughing till my side ached. No reasonable person would expect that such a formation, assembled absolutely ad hoc, would ever stand a chance of reaching unanimity in dealing with such a difficult and complex matter. It was rather doubtful that they would ever meet all together in full capacity. Or perhaps just once, and only with an intention to cause some commotion.
Needless to say, that was a misconstrued idea, and nothing but wishful thinking, which greatly prevails in our politics. The country will not be put in order by the efforts of its citizens only. We need the accumulation of both, eagerness of our society reinforced by practising responsible social politics. Let us focus here on the educational system.
It is heart-breaking that we allow the potential, namely the parents dedicated to the aim of providing their children with the best education, to go to waste! I am not implying that we have to relent in this case, however it is unacceptable to disregard people who are genuinely concerned about the upbringing oft heir children. Even if I had to make some concessions to parents, just a little bit, I would still have known it is going to be beneficial for the schools. We have to trigger this energy and release it in the right direction.
Yet, let me reiterate, each and every time again it has to result from responsibility to fulfil a certain mission and genuine conviction that you know exactly what needs to be achieved in a certain matter, and not just from being in an empowered position to decide. Let us be honest, how many times do we happen to encounter an individual, who does not complain that something just cannot be done; yet instead makes an effort and tries to convince the others to follow in his footsteps? Are these people rewarded for that, or do we choose to ignore and suppress them?
Most often than not, anybody who stands from the crowd in this regard, not saying that they are superior to the others, is simply perceives as a thread, a source of unnecessary disruption. Hence here we face a choice, either we will decide on the philosophy of status quo, or the belief that it is just about sustaining a healthy balance between the two influential powers: ‘one poor political plot for the other, if you do this, we will do that’, or we will opt for raising awareness, of what is to be done in a given situation and what is the reason for doing it,; what is important right here and right now; and finally passing these ideas to our successors, as this task is a never ending story.
There are no ideal systems. Even if Jerzy Regulski and Michał Kulesza had both accomplished the first stage of the local self-governmental reform, and then Jerzy Buzek had put the second stage in motion, then afterwards we, as pre-eminent experts, pointed out that we need the third stage of the reform to be implemented, not because the endeavours of previous political powers were a flop, actually to the contrary, yet they were not perfect either, but because we need to make the next step.
However, every time I mention this, I am accused of leaning strongly towards radicalism. I was publicly referred to as a radical by one of the ministers. While she mentioned she is in favour of adopting the policy of a small step at a time, I replied that it is of little importance whether we will take small or big steps; it is about heading in the right, well thought out direction.
Needless to say, the steps made by the minister were made in different directions, once to the left, once to the right, and then forwards, followed by one step backwards. It is a dance of inertia, and nothing will eventuate from it. We are going in circles, yet very vigorously. I believe that even if we will fail to implement all together all the proposals from the third local self-governmental reform, at least we will have the right diagnosis that nobody will question. In that manner we can decide what can be dealt with right away, yet with the knowledge of what will follow after. That is what the government needs to decide on and we are here to back it up in the name of the common cause, the Republic of Poland.
Since it is impossible to convince those on the top, I will try to convince those at the bottom. It is my mission to convince people to the causes that are necessary and compulsory. Even though it might turn out that these efforts will be futile, I consider them of a great importance, because I believe sooner or later there will emerge a window of opportunity. But whether such window will occur because some part of national elites will decide to act, maybe because a leader will come forward who will activate some accurate mechanisms, or perhaps because some social movements, for instance local movements will take over the power locally, that I do not know.
My public engagement in governmental matters should be regarded as actions of a professor of a public university. Besides being involved in teaching the students with an utmost care to stimulate their creative potential, and apart from my academic research, I believe I am responsible for much more, as somebody granted an honorary title. I am convinced it is of a great importance and meaning, and should be regarded as something more that just a privilege, the right to wear the black gown; it is an obligation, which I intend to meet.
When I agreed to take the public office as a minister, I refrained form asking the Prime Ministers Leszek Miller or Marek Belka respectively for any instructions. Actually, I think that while being a minister I was meeting with them probably less than when not holding the office. I admit, I would rarely see either of them. Why? Because since being appointed a minister, I needed to be responsible for it, ad it was up to me to decide what needs to be done. Only if it was absolutely necessary to liaise with the other minister, then I would make the contact with the Prime Minister. Then, and also when the Prime Minister himself needed to address something to me. My encounters with the Prime Minister were indeed of a rare nature, because I felt I did not need to be granted any assurance and I did not need to make any excuses. Any instructions were not necessary either; you either know what challenges you taking on, or you simply don’t. And if you initially don’t, then watch, learn and decide. And if you cannot, then simply step down.
How to reach the point, when we create such a structure, a formation that would encourage the people at the public offices to focus less on the procedure and more on the ultimate effect, as well as measuring the effectiveness? How to trigger this determination, optimistically speaking, among those at the top, and then make sure it finds its way to affect those, who are right at the bottom? Do you think it would be ever possible to bring into existence such a system, which would motivate us into action, so that each matter is dealt with, one by one? It is definitely not about pushing the cases through the desks of those, who are there to decide, only to ensure that the case is closed. Such was the case with the gas terminal or the motorways and all we were hoping for was that none of the third parties involved would go bankrupt. Can you see any light, professor Hausner, at the end of the tunnel? Most often, once we touch upon one issue, we realise there are dozens of other matters that require immediate action. How to shake the foundations of the institutions of national administration?
To be frank, I don’t quite believe in the idea of collective reform of administration. Saying this I do not suggest that we do not need a thorough diagnosis of public administration in aspects such as civil service system, officials’ salaries, and officials’ responsibilities. Once we take the particular segments of the state into consideration, and establish the shape of legislative processes and the responsibilities involved in civil service, then we arrive at the point, when we have to focus on particular public policies. As the experts, we did not present the raw materials strategy, yet not because we were unable to create the programme, but because currently there is nobody to implement it.
Therefore, in our rapport we suggest how to create the institutional system of raw material politics, what are its main goals, what instruments are at its disposal, in other words, we answer every question asked on this matter. We managed to introduce the overall concept of raw material politics, just adding towards the end: it is not there before and we cannot do without it. Of course, someone might want to dispute, that since it is not there, then there is no point to tackle other matters further.
Let me, however, reverse the line of reasoning and take a stand: once we succeed in achieving one goal, it would become easier to succeed in other matters, also because there will be a proof that it is doable. This is a positive line of reasoning, doing us much more good than negative convergence, which nowadays seems to have settled in our heads. I will probably fail to rectify all the imbalances, yet if I manage to resolve one difficult task, let us say, the issue of raw material politics, then at last I succeed in constructing a certain system. There will be a leader in charge of such a system, who will coordinate the programme of the raw material politics, and such a leader, while focusing on implementing the already existing programme, for which he will be personally responsible, will be aware of certain obstacles lying ahead, and therefore he will put every effort to remove them as they make it impossible to achieve already recognised goals. In the opposite line of reasoning lies the presumption that we are playing with a complex jigsaw puzzle, and that puzzle needs to be appropriately arranged, all at once and right away. There is no such mighty man who can achieve it.
Undoubtedly, we need to see the big picture, but if we want to succeed, we need to tackle one module at a time, beginning with those, which are the direct cause of the state’s imbalance. We need to focus on the fundamental, in given circumstances, points of application of the political power and energy, which result form electoral victory. As far as each of these modules are concerned, what we need is always an appropriate set of directives which will guarantee its successful transformation. We have to be able to go as far as possible to ensure at least the functionality of the module.
While dealing with the issues of fiscal politics, I often stressed the fact that there are three black holes systematically destroying our system. One of them is healthcare, the other, hard coal mining, the third one being Polish State Railways (PKP). Each of these sectors demonstrated detrimental effects of over-exploitative economy, where the natural resources were used without their subsequent accumulation, which caused irreparable damage and other responsibilities and consequentially pressuring for increasingly more support from outside. Every segment of such over-exploitative economy has to eventually collapse and will infect any adjacent segment, which in turn leads to burdening the latter with the costs of low effectiveness and malfunctioning. If we put up with that, then it cannot be stopped. We will witness a major collapse, the effects of which will take time to clear up.
The hard coal mining can serve as perfect example of such abusive economic politics, and now we try to resuscitate the affected segments, at the cost of energy department. The total amount of instances of such political negligence clearly translates itself into weakening the developmental potential of our country.
Is Poland a failing state? I do not think it is, yet our country is losing its developmental power and will find itself being pushed to the margin by stronger economic entities. It definitely takes great political imagination and responsibility to comprehend such a dilemma. Without them it becomes impossible to succeed in taking any effective action. No one will be eager to take any action, as difficult decisions are inseparably linked with great risks;, therefore most likely we will witness some irresponsible politician waiting and waiting, and worst case scenario, there will be his predecessors or current collaborators to blame.
What model of development can you suggest, professor Hausner? Calling all Polish nation and Polish elites, what model are you promoting? Once united, what model shall we aim at? On what substantiations can we base our concept of development?
First and foremost it should be based on the recognition of our own potential. Since these structures cannot be just copied, we have to generate our own model of country’s development. By establishing what is in our disposal, what is missing, what we supply ourselves, and what needs to be resourced from outside, we become creators of main underpinnings of the developmental strategy. And consequently, let me stress here that it is our great strength as a nation, which I mentioned before, to take the initiative, to be resourceful, and anything directly related to it. Poland handles the situation on the market very well.
Therefore let us change our focus from those solutions, which weaken the market, as they will undoubtedly fail to deliver any further dynamics. Instead, we should focus on solutions that will effectively enhance the capacity of the market. I would describe our development as molecular in nature, the progress powered by only one engine, an initiative that combines the market and private sectors.
We need as many as three engines, which would include the state and civil engines respectively. You can have your own house, but not your own access road. It does not need to be addressed to the state, as it lies within the competences of local municipality. You can tidy up your own garden, but you cannot found a private school only for your own children. Thus it is rather obvious, having achieved as much as we had for today, let it be as an individual, or as small family and friends oriented committee, we have to decide on what can be achieved once we go beyond the individual zone.
Leaving this comfort zone originating in enclosed space of our own house, our own car, and individual or family oriented model of life, would mean entering the new dimension, in which we function as community and as such, we need one another. We should rely on our country that it will provide us with essential conditions for certain civil activity, and will help us to create a new realm where the public sphere and civil sphere happily coexist. We have witnessed it already in the past, when the essential conditions for our resourcefulness had been once conceived. It is vital that our state claims: ‘Within the framework of educational system authorised, we are willing to allow for all different kings of solutions of formal and legal nature, yet it still remains a public educational system, as it produces certificates of such nature. Anyone with the idea of founding a private school and providing funds is more than welcome to do so, and we will provide accreditation of such institution. If it is a state school, than it is up to us to offer additional support.’
The aim of the game is to have clear rules, and it is up to the state to establish them as such. Then it is up to people themselves to try to find a solution to their own problem. In some cases social school, as a non-public organisation, might serve as one of the model examples of possible resolutions, in some other it would be a local school, as long as the level of education is raised and maintained. It is also up the public authorities to prevent such situations from occurring, when someone is discriminated on the grounds of having access to good schools, or the level education received. I believe that once the sufficient, yet by no means ideal, circumstances are provided to ensure the market is resourcefully running, the state is expected to focus its effort on encouraging people to be ready to deliver as a community in new dimension, and not on hampering the smooth progression on the market.
This discussion involves institutions such as local municipalities, schools, and other organisations, which are not directly subordinate to the state, but more accurately, where the state has to determine the fundamental systematic rules of their development. Is it indeed up to the government to determine how to manage universities and consequentially ad to already existing deluge of its bureaucratic responsibilities? Or perhaps we need to appoint a Ministry of Higher Education, so that the Minister can set up the rules, what in turn would make the officials in charge of universities realise that, provided they perform within the framework of already specified rules, they can count on many different privileges; however, if these rules are disobeyed, it will result in certain consequences.
Let us stress here yet another time, we find it very difficult to define the concept of the state. How else can it be explained, if some believe that the institution of the state is obsolete, others actually expect the state to directly feed the answers to the question what needs to be done. We need to understand that the banking system we are dealing with now is completely different from the previous one, and therefore we have to invent a more accurate model to ensure the state’s functionality, and that model needs to match the model of the prevailing banking system. The state is not meant to own the banks, yet it is meant to administrate them effectively.
Moreover, if the state decides it is advisable, it will also support the establishment of communal banks, which would need to be adequately supervised as well in order to prevent the incidents, such as those involving Polish System of Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions (SKOK) from happening ever again. In general we need to avoid solutions, which would allow for a possibility of transposing the risk of financial transactions from one side to another. The state should not be perceived as a force moving our world form the point A to point B, instead it should designate a safe space for transition, and intervene only in case of direct risk of losing balance, or when the developmental dynamics is petering out.
We need a state that is not monocentric, and the officials governing it need to be able to reflect, have great imagination, be responsible, and finally have the longer perspective. Mister Jerzy Buzek used to be described as “softly charismatic”. Today, he is widely known and respected in the whole county. Is it because he is nice and charming? He is indeed a nice and charming man, but it is not the only reason. In many instances he managed to introduce his point of view in a very strict and sharp, yet also decisive and clear manner and he never tried to hide his genuine opinions. Did he shoot himself in the foot? No, not really! Quite to the contrary! Here and now people perceive him as a trustworthy politician. And why Jerzy Buzek is so widely appreciated today? It is because he was courageous enough to propose certain far-reaching operations, even if they turned out to be futile.
Tadeusz Mazowiecki used to be compared to a tortoise. Today it is widely believed that he was the prime minister who had accomplished the most. He managed to do what was possible at that time to do, and no one will ever bear grudges that he did not do more. He never wasted his time; his actions could be described as nothing more but instances of pure determination and prudence, and never cold electoral calculation.
This being said, I believe that those political parties, which fail to make an effort to stimulate the developmental potential of the country, will inescapably soon loose not only their authority, yet more importantly, the legal right to claim that authority back. Those politicians, who refuse to rake any responsibility, or are downrightly hiding form it, will perhaps manage to stay in power for some period of time, yet they will never win people’s appreciation and respect, as we tend to respect only those politicians who willing to make an effort and face extremely difficult problems. Those politicians never lie and always consequentially produce a result. They exercise authority over citizens, they deal with difficult issues, they resolve problems, but first and foremost, they accept responsibility for all of it.
The article was originally published in Polish in the XXth issue of Liberté!
Translated by: Małgorzata Wiśniewska